Tuesday 31 December 2013

2013 - In Review

Well, dear readers, 2013 is nearly over. This year's Father Time will soon be handing over the reins to next year's Father Time. And 2013 has been a weird year for me.

Not personnel. This year for my private life has been interesting and fun and, at time, the cause of many headaches!

But for my bloggy life - it has been mad!

Not only did I do this blog and do all the awesome things such as Book Blogger Events, author signings and general book lushing (that goes on quite a lot in my book world. Ask the Person I'm With. He now gives me a time limit in visiting Waterstones [other book shops are available] and I have to be more strict about how many books/eBooks I have so I need to be more strict on my book culling - let's say my local charity shops HATE me now!).

But I have been very lucky to do things that, if it wasn't for the blog or me screaming on Twitter about my love for books, I wouldn't have had the chance to do.

I beta-read a novel MONTHS before it got published. I have NO IDEA how that happened by the lovely A.E. Rought thought it would be a smart idea to ask me to read/edit her baby that turned into Tainted. Of course I said yes and I attacked it with a red pen! Not sure if she trusts me now with edits but yes, I beta-read a book! And I think I'm in the acknowledgements (but I can't be sure because I can't buy myself a copy ANYWHERE!!!)

And I did guest blog post and vlogs! I've always tried to do guest blogs but I don't like using the camera on myself so the fact I am braving the internet WITH MY FACE and THAT VOICE is a big deal. I hope I can do some more of those in the future! I have to thank Stevie from Sable Caught for allowing me to record a joint video of us chatting about Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (and more grateful that it has NEVER SEEN THE LIGHT OF DAY! I bet I was awful in it!). And thanks to Bookish Brits for having me on not once but twice!

And then I did some really awesome (aka "HOW ON EARTH IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME!?") things. Thanks to Walker Books, I went to the Press Screening of Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Then, madly, I went on the set of upcoming movie Vampire Academy and interviewed the author, producers & actors for the site Fangirlish.com (my report should be up sometime in January/February of 2014 - and SURPRISE, by the way! Was keeping this a secret but I WANNA TELL YOU GUYS! I WANTED TO TELL YOU GUYS FOR SOOOOOOO LOOOOONNNNGGG!!!) and I was reporting for Fangirlish on the red carpet of the world premiere of Catching Fire (my report is here, by the way!)! I was within TOUCHING DISTANCE of Jen, Josh and that is one very surreal thought! So, my thanks to Jeremy for suggesting me and to Erin for saying "Let's give the mad Brit a try".

And then, because of Catching Fire, I was invited onto the podcast, Mystical Lit Lounge and chatted about the event (my episode is here). Now, I love the podcast so to be invited was exciting and an honor. And I had such fun doing it (and I might have to gatecrash/beg to go back. Even if it's to say hello to Shannon, who sadly wasn't there!). So, to Kim who asked if I could do it and then chatting to me about all things Catching Fire and then all things books, thank you!

So, this year has been very unexpected!

And I wanted to thank everyone. To all the blogs, all the authors, all the publishers, all the podcasts, everyone I interviewed/scared. Thank you! You all are awesome and thank you!

To all you readers who read my blog, follow my Twitter, the blog's Facebook page, Pinterest or the Goodreads, thank you for coming on this mad journey and, hopefully, enjoying the ride!

And to all my real life family, friends, and my Other Half, thank you for allowing me to do all this stuff, even though you think I am mad to do them! Thank you for being wonderful, brave and just being there in my life. I have no idea where I would be without you all! I love you.

So, now with that all out of the way, I want to wish and hope you all have a wonderful 2014. So, raise your glass/mugs/chocolate, laptop, iPod/iPhone, the nearest pet you can lay your hands on and let's welcome to New Year in style.

We've all done that? Ok, now, play your favorite song, play it loud and DANCE LIKE NO ONE'S WATCHING!!!

(what? you thought I wasn't going to put a gif in this post? Don't you know me AT ALL?!) xP

Monday 23 December 2013

SMILE - Christmas is The Only Time...

Random Google from Sarah Millican is my thanks here so that was easy! And this, my dear friends, is the last SMILE post of the year of 2013! We had fun, didn't we?

SMILE will be back on the blog next year or, if you're fancy and are on Pinterest, come follow the SMILE board at pinterest.com/pewterwolf/smile/ (or follow all my boards, if you fancy it) and you might get a sneak peek of a future SMILE post!

Sunday 22 December 2013

Xmas Songs

Earlier in the month, I asked you guys for your fave Christmas songs. I annoyed you on Twitter and hopefully for a good few song choices.

Only THREE people replied to my request. THREE! So, if these aren't your fave Christmas songs or your isn't on here, you only had yourselves to blame...

Anyway, the three requests are...

WHAM's Last Christmas
Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas
Lindsey Stirling's Celtic Carol!

Saturday 21 December 2013

Books And Their Theme Songs - Volume 21

WE'RE HERE!!! HAPPY 21ST POST FOR BOOKS AND THEIR THEME SONGS POSTS! *throws internet confetti at everyone*

Now, we have out of the way, let's get down to the music! So, below is my reading theme songs for the past 2 months and if you come back sometime late Christmas Eve, they will a special post about the top 5 Christmas songs (as voted for by YOU!). So... let's get cracking!

"All I Want For Christmas" by Mariah Carey and "Falling In Love At A Coffee Shop" by Landon Pigg

PAWN by Aimee Carter
"Elastic Heart" by Sia (Ft. The Weeknd & Diplo)

"Cats Wearing Hats" by ParryGripp

Friday 20 December 2013

GoodRead - Dangerous Dream

Here it is! My last review of 2013! Technically, I wanted my last review of this year to be Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier. But then I was reminded that this was coming out and I read it so quickly I thought I might as well review this and save all the hopefully awesome reads that I should be attacking over Christmas in the New Year.

So, Dangerous Dream. This is a prequel novella for the new spinoff series based in the world of the Casters. That's right, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl are back totogether. So they are not only writing their own series but this new series - the Dangerous Creatures series - the first book should be out sometime in May, if I got my info right.

So, set after Beautiful Redemption (if you haven't read the Beautiful Creatures series, SPOILERS AHOY!), the story is told from three points of view. Ethan has the first part (BEFORE), Link has the second (AFTER) and then Ridley has the third, final and longest part (AFTERMATH). And through these three parts, we see a summer. A summer where Link tells Ridley that he loves her. And we see Ridley reaction to this and see her do something, that us readers know that sooner or later, she is going to regret...

This is very much a "set-up" story. This new series is going to follow Link and Ridley in New York City and this sets up how/why they both go there. And, from the looks of it, Dangerous Creatures might be told from Ridley's point of view (this is from the sneaky peek of Dangerous Creatures - and we all know that she is one of those!) so that's going to be interesting to read about her - as a character says in Dangerous Dreams, "she's her own worst enemy, yet her own best friend".

I did like it, but I didn't love it because of this reason. While I think this is a good thing for the new series (read my next paragraph), I wanted more. More details, more information, just more...

I haven't read Beautiful Chaos or Beautiful Redemption (I will try and read them next year. I will try, no promises), but I sense this new series will have the same effect on the fans as when Cassandra Clare announced that she was writing books 4, 5 & 6 of the Mortal Instruments series. Some fans were VERY excited. Some fans were VERY unhappy. And some fans didn't honestly care and trusted the author with this decision. And I think this will be the same with Dangerous Creatures, which is why I feel that what Margaret and Kami did (writing this eNovella) was a smart move. If you are unsure if you want to read this new series or not, READ THIS FIRST then you can sit down afterwards and make up your own mind.

As I still need to read Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption, I don't know if I will go to this new series just yet, but I do find Link and Ridley's relationship interesting to read (I mean, come on. HOW are these two very different people in this intense/hot relationship?) and I like that Ridley is so complex and yet doesn't give two hoots about how the world sees her (and I love how Emmy Rossum played her in the movie), BUT we shall wait and see if this new series is going to be just as big as the Beautiful Creatures series...

Wednesday 18 December 2013

GoodRead - Under The Paw

I have been following the twitter accounts Why My Cat Is Sad (@MySadCat) and Why My Cat is Smug (@MySmugCat) for quite awhile so I knew I wanted to read one of the books written by the man in charge of the twitter, Tom Cox, for a while. So when the first and second books, Under the Paw and Talk To The Tail, was made £1.59 each, I knew I would buy them both.

On the surface, Tom Cox looks like a normal guy. Expect for one thing. He's a cat person. In a big way. So when he meets his soon-to-be wife, he gives up his life as a journalist for NME, moves to Norfolk and, within a matter of years, finds himself owning several cats. Well, at one point, seven. Including The Bear, a cat that is "painfully sensitive" but could very easily be an evil genius...

If you know me or follow the blog/Twitter (@PewterWolf13, by the way), I am a bit of a cat person myself so seeing this, it was a no brainer that I was going to read it. A no-brainer. And I thought I was going to enjoy it SO MUCH! I mean, what's not to love about cats?

However (yes, there's a however), for a short book (it's around 250-odd pages), it felt like a drag to read. Sometimes, I whizzed through it but, most times, it DRAGGED! Maybe it's because I have owned cats in the past so when Tom chatted about something, I would have gone "Oh, my old cat use to do that".

I think my problem with this is that I expected it to be much funnier than it was. I had a high expectations.

But I did like it. But I don't think I will rush quickly to read the next read.

Friday 13 December 2013

GoodRead - The Moth In The Mirror

With the second book in the Splintered, Unhinged, coming out in a few weeks times, A G Howard has released a short novella to get us ready and to hint at what's to come... 

Morpheus has a rival for Alyssa's affections: Jeb. So, to figure him out, Morpheus decides to know his enemy better and uses Jeb's memories of his time in Wonderland. What he finds might surprise Morpheus...

Now, when I was reading Splintered, I never trusted Morpheus and, with this, I fear that I won't trust him in Unhinged, because by the end of the story, you get his gameplan of what he might do in book two. But it was interesting to see both the "bad boy" and the "good guy" (Morpheus and Jeb respectively) and it was interesting to see scenes and interactions that was hinted at in Splintered that wasn't shown as Alyssa wasn't there to see them, but on her quest to save Wonderland...

My only regret with this novella is that I wished it was a little longer. It felt like we only skimmed the scenes rather than go in depth. 

Now I have read this, I can not wait to read Unhinged

Wednesday 11 December 2013

GoodRead - Witch Finder

Another day, another NetGalley read! I am going to try and read some of my NetGalley this month so I have some control over my NetGalley requests (and my twitchy "request" finger!). And with me deciding that I want to have my last review of the year sometime within the week of the 16th December (so no worrying over reviews during Christmas/New Year weeks).

So, Witch Finder. In London 1880, Luke is trying to join Malleus Maleficorum, brotherhood that are bound to hunt and kill witches. To join, Luke must pick a random name from the Book of Witches and kill them. Failure means his own death. When Luke chooses the name of Rosa Greenwood, he doesn't realise it would be more difficult than he first thought... 

And as for Rosa, life as a witch isn't as simple. Her mother and brother see her as property, a means to gather money and a position of employment, rather than a young woman and one of her brother's friends is looking at her, ready to take her as a wife. But if he does ask her for marry, what will Rosa do? 

If I am completely honest with you, I am in two minds over this read. 

It was an easy read and sets things nicely up for the series that is to come. I enjoyed reading about Rosa and her situation. 

However, I do have issues. Like I said, this is the first book in a series, so it suffered from "First Book Syndrome". Where a lot of things had to be set up. So, when you get to the end, some things are neatly tied up and yet, others aren't. And for me, the story lines that were left dangling, I didn't care as much about as much as I should. 

My second little issue was I wanted more description. There were times I wished there was more information. This is set in London 1880, so there were things that needed more description. But at times, it felt a bit slack. But I can forgive this as I was enjoying the story so that's why this isn't as big an issue as it could have been. 

The final issue I had was the main character, Luke. It took me ages before I warmed to him, whereas with Rosa, I liked her from within a few pages. I didn't really care for him, or his back story. I think, with him, I felt like I had read him before... 

So, this book was a mix of good and bad. I would consider reading the sequel (this is the first book in a series, remember?). And I do have the first book in the author's other Witch series (the A Witch in Winter trilogy) so I am going to read more from this author, but maybe this book came at the wrong time (I'm still recovering from the whole Allegiant affair)...

Monday 9 December 2013

SMILE - It's So Shiny!

Another thank you to Pinterest! And if you're on Pinterest and want to see more random Smile-related pins, you can follow the SMILE board!

Friday 6 December 2013

GoodRead - Pawn

You will have to forgive me if my review on Pawn isn' up to my normal standards. I read this back at the start of October (thank you NetGalley) and the UK publishers, Mira Ink, asked if I could have it close to the UK publication date (January 2014) rather than the US release date (November 2013) so I decided to pop here - best of both worlds! And because I am writing this a few weeks after reading this, you will have to forgive me if I forget details so... yeah...

In this, the first book in the Blackcoat Rebellion series, we are thrown into a dystopian USA where, at the age of seventeen, you take a test and this defines your grade in life. For Kitty Doe, she gets the grade of III and she's plans to escape the life of misery that is thrown upon her. So when she gets the chance to become a VII, the highest grade you can become - the same as the Hart family, who rule the USA, Kitty takes it, not realising what would happen to her next.

Because of her eyes are the same as the Prime Minister's niece, Lila Hart, Kitty becomes Masked - surgically altered to looking like Lila who, unknown to the general public, died in mysterious circumstance. Now, looking like Lila, the Hart family want Kitty to stop a rebellion. A rebellion that Lila was a figurehead for. A rebellion that Kitty believes in.

But as a pawn in this twisted game of politics and family loyalty, Kitty must step carefully for her life isn't the only life on the line...

I really enjoyed reading this. This was one of the easiest dystopian novels I read in a while that I instantly sank into and read late into the night. It was very addictive. There were elements of The Selection by Kiera Cass to it (but Aimee Carter actually writes these elements MUCH BETTER than Kiera Cass) and there was something about it that remembered me of Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, but I can't put my finger on what, though.

And this novel had twists! It's a very twisty novel. In the first, say, 50-60% of the book, you are understanding the world Kitty lives in and the world she is suddenly thrust into. But then, just when you begin to understand it, Aimee then pulls the rug from under her readers with the amount of twists. With every twists, you go "Whoa! I did not see that coming!" and she only gives you a few chapters to recover before the next twist is revealed.

I need to know what happens next. I need the sequel because of that ending. That last reveal...

So, dear readers, if you are a fan of The Selection and you want some darker or you're a fan of Under the Never Sky, may I suggest this read...

Wednesday 4 December 2013

GoodRead - Night of Cake And Puppets

When the news of this novella was announced, I was excited. So excited, I spent ten minutes trying to find then preorder it on Amazon.co.uk. Sorry, but I am a huge fan of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. It was only after I preordered it that I actually read what the synopsis was about. All I saw when I saw the first time round was the title, the cover and the names Zuzana and Mik. That's it. Then I read it fully and went "This is gonna be good!"

In the novella, we go on Zuzana and Mik's first date. With a small handful of magic from her best friend, Karou, and a plan - a treasure map, actually. And the treasure is her. But will "violin boy" follow the map? And what will he find on the way...?

I forgot how much I LOVE this world! The world of Daughter of Smoke and Bone is such a wonderful world and reading Zuzana and Mik finally meeting up was wonderful. I LOVED reading this as it was sweet and fun and it makes me very excited over Dreams of Gods and Monsters.

And now we have to wait till April for Dreams of Gods and Monsters... SO FAR AWAY! So, if you are a fan of the series and you haven't read this, you need to read this. Like now.

Monday 2 December 2013

SMILE - Today, I am A Owl!

Not sure how I came across this (I think I was Googling an image for my other half and our weirdness) so, thanks Google!

Friday 29 November 2013

Your Fave Xmas Songs

Less than a month till Christmas. LESS THAN A MONTH!!! Are you excited? Are you panicked? Is the Christmas Movie channel on all the time or have you banned it from your home?

Why am I chatting abou Christmas? Well, I want to do something special for you guys and I thought this would be a good way to do it. I want to know what your fave Christmas song or your fave Christmas-themed song is. Is it Michael Buble? The new Kelly Clarkson? What about the latest Leona Lewis? Or are the classics like All I Want for Christmas and Fairytale in New York your faves? Or is it not anything Christmasy at all?

I wanna know. Why? Well, I want to do the top 5 voted for Xmas songs on this blog's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ThePewterWolf). If you're not following the Facebook page, please do. It would be nice to get to know you all!

Anyway, the plan. The top five voted for songs will be put up, one song a day, leading up to Christmas (meaning the first day will be Friday 20th December). Each song will go up sometime in the afternoon on the Facebook page and, after your fave song is announced on the Facebook page on Christmas Eve, a blog post with the top 5 will be up (it will be later in the evening, though).

So, here's the form. All I ask is you give me the name of the song, the artist and, if you have it, the youTube/SoundCloud link so I can put it on both the Facebook and Blog.

That's it. Nothing more to add. Oh, deadline. I will be closing this at around 7pm on Friday 13th December. So that gives me time to add the votes, get the right song and get everything ready. That fair?

Now the form is out the way, you may carry on with your day!

Thursday 28 November 2013

Cover Reveal for BLACK DOG

Ooops! For some reason, this didn't go up at 5pm as I asked it to. Weird. Oh well...

I HAVE A COVER REVEAL FOR YOU GUYS! The lovely peeps of Strange Chemistry have asked me and some other bloggers to reveal a cover for their new novel that should be published in February 2014.

The cover for Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier and TA-DAH!!!

IT'S ALL WINTERY!!! And WHAT is that thing behind our lead heroine? I am not saying a werewolf as the blurb doesn't mention or feel werwolf-y. Let me put the blurb up and you can see for yourself, and you can tell me what you think about the cover! LEAVE COMMENTS and tell me what you think of this cover and the story itself:

Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge – the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases – like for Natividad’s father and older brother – Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest black dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.

Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister’s Pure magic. Natividad’s twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.

But, first, they must all survive the looming battle.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

GoodRead - Santa Baby

I know that this is meant to be my "Read Your Own" month. I know! But after the ending that was Allegiant, I decide to mix it up a bit. Am going to speed read a few NetGalley/eProofs in the next few weeks (I have several that I am DESPERATE to read!) and maybe reread Catching Fire after I see the movie... So, that's my December all planned out on the reading front (DANG IT!!!)

So, let's start getting into the Christmas spirit (I heard Christmas music on the radio so I take that as a good sign!) and attack Santa Baby by Ali Cronin, the second in Hot Key Books Unlocked novellas for Christmas 2013. It's coming up to Christmas and the end of Annie's first few weeks as a chalet girl in the beautiful Swiss mountains. Her boyfriend is off travelling so she's not exactly thrilled to look after a stag party of posh boys. And it's not long before one - George - makes a play for her. He makes his intentions clear - he wants her under the mistletoe. And in his bed.

But, while Annie is tempted, she can't help but be more interested in another member of the stag do - the quiet Sam. But Sam's got a girlfriend, George says. And we should trust George's word... right?

As I said in my previous review (All I Want For Christmas by Esme Taylor), I'm kinda only just entering the world of New Adult. So, I was braced for it. Well, I expected strong language, sex, strong urges (if you get my drift). Most people do think New Adult is "YA but kinky" (I still have no idea what New Adult is, by the way). But I was kinda looking forward to see where this would go.

And it didn't go there. If anything, it was the opposite to what I was expecting a New Adult novella to be. Yes, this is New Adult so yes, there is swearing and sex. But it felt more like a romance story. Something, if I'm honest with you, I wasn't expecting.

But I got a romance. It was sweet (but had enough grit to keep me from going "BO-RRRRRIIINNNG!" [you guys know I'm not a mushy romantic reader]), the characters and the humour was engaging. The plot... If I'm honest with you, I feel like I've read it before or seen it in a Christmas movie and, because of this, I felt like I guessed some of the key plot points.

And I think, because of that, this felt like a middle of the road read. I'm not sure if I'm saying that because it was more romance than I expected or because I didn't click with the story as much as I hope, but I do think this is a nice read to get you ready for Christmas and will make you want to go skiing. 

Monday 25 November 2013

Thursday 21 November 2013

GoodRead - All I Want For Christmas

So, after Allegiant and THAT ending (Let's not go there, shall we? In the words of River Song, "spoilers"), I'm going through a phrase of reading short, "happy" reads. I think I'm still in mourning for Allegiant by Veronica Roth. So, I attacked this, one of Hot Key Books Unlocked eNovellas from their launch series/Christmas range.

Ella is dreading this Christmas. After her parents death, she was determined to make a change. After quitting uni and dumping her ex, she's found herself stuck and she's unable to make the next big step.

But while she's working at a Christmas party, she meets Joe and the attraction is instant. Neither want anything more than a fling which is perfect, seeing as Ella wants to become unstuck and Joe is going away in the New Year. But as the big day comes closer, the snow and clothes start falling, Ella begins to wonder if this fling could be something more... And if taking the risk to find out worth taking....?

Now, this is my first real "New Adult" story. I have loads on my kindle but I have not read any of them so, when I started reading this, I was entering new terrority. I guessed it would tackle sex - and I was right. It was sexy and quite steamy (if you follow me on GoodReads, you probably saw my mock outcries of "WILL SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!")

But I liked it. It was a sweet, hot chocolate of a novella, getting the reader ready for Christmas (it kinda reminded me vaguely of one of the stories from the Let It Snow collection, The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson. But more adult and sexy). I kinda want more stories from these characters - I want a story about Amy and Lee (if you read the story, you'll understand), but any of Joe's siblings as well. There's a wealth of characters who stories could be told.

So more, Esme Taylor (aka Keris Stainton). You know you want to...

Monday 18 November 2013

SMILE - This Isn't Lasagna!

My thanks to CassJayTuck's tumblr for this random pic that had me snorting into my coffee. Thanks for that...

Friday 15 November 2013

Waterstones NaNoWriMo Challenge

NOVEMBER IS NANOWRIMO! For those of you taking part, I hope like hell you hit your target by the end of the month!

Anyway, I was asked to take part in this - the Waterstones NaNoWriMo Challenge - to write the third chapter of a story with the aid of Rory's Story Cubes to help with inspiration. I had only two rules - keep it between 250-500 words and keep it PG rated. Easy, right? NOPE! But oddly fun!

Anyway, if you want to follow the story, here is chapter 1 at SonnyAndLuca.co.uk and chapter 2 is at RebeccaCraft.com. So, are we all up to speed? Are we all sitting comfortable? Good, then I shall begin...

(And to whoever has chapter 4, I am so very sorry.)


As I walked slowly toward the mysterious sunny face archway, my fingers twitched and touched my bare wrist, only to feel some skin raised. I looked down and saw black ink of a tattoo. A tattoo I never had.
                "What the -?" Did I do this last night? What actually happened last night?
                The tattoo was of  sleeping Justice, holding scales in one hand and, weirdly, an apple in the other.
                How drunk did I get last night?
                No. I wasn't drinking last night. So... what on earth happened?!
                I turned down the empty road, a cold feeling creeping up my spine. Something weird happened to me - no, something weird is happening to me - and I had no idea what was going on.
                I was being to get a headache. It felt like an swarm of angry beetles and bees was trapped in a jam jar.
                Could I buy some paracetamol? I felt the strange jacket I was wearing to see if I could feel any cash or my wallet in the pockets. Nothing.
                Great, I thought. Just great. What else can go wrong?
                Famous last words.
                Out of nowhere, a toddler ran out of a shop, eyes wide like dish. He was wearing bright red wellies.
                "Mum! MUM!" He squealed, pointing to the sky. "Rainbow! RAINBOW!"
                The shop door opened and a woman - the child's mother - came out. "You shouldn't run off, Ethan."
                "MUM!" the child - Ethan - wailed, pointing the sky above my head. "Rainbow!"
                The mother looked up at the sky. "There's no rainbow, dear. It's..." She suddenly looked puzzled. "What is that?"
                "Sh-sh-shooting star?" Ethan questioned, pouting his lips out, his mouth not truly able to pronounce the word.
                The mother continued to look at the sky. Then a look of horror and terror crossed it. She snatched Ethan up into her arms and run to the shop door.
                "Get inside!" She shouted. "Run! They're coming! Get inside!"
                The shop door snapped shut behind her as Ethan wailed.
                What on earth -? What would cause a grown-up to freak out like that?
                I turned on the spot, stared up at the sky and felt my brain short-circuited.
                This wasn't real.
                It made no sense!
                And yet, it was happening.

                An army of angry sheep was being parachuted down from the empty blue sky, and all their little black eyes were fixed horribly on me.  

Thursday 14 November 2013

How Tinder Was Inspired By The Thirty-Year War by Sally Gardner

I am THRILLED that I'm taking part in the Tinder blog tour . And I am thrilled that Sally Gardner, author of Tinder, has taken time out to write this blog post, explaining how the Thirty Year War inspired Tinder. So, without any further delay, let me hand you over to Sally:

I have always been interested in the bits of history that tend to be overlooked. My research has shown me that nothing happens in isolation.  Learning historical dates in class is meaningless unless you understand the significance of them, you need to have something to hang them on.

When I was at school it never occurred to me that the reason for the first and second world wars could lie way back, buried in the folds of history.In fact, I think there is a good argument to say that the wars have been mis-numbered and the First European War actually took place in 1618 and went by the name of the Thirty Year War. It was without doubt one of the bloodiest and the cruelest wars that had ever been fought in the Holy Roman Empire and it took place in the many feudal states that made up Germany at the time. Every country in Europe at one stage or other took part in this war including Scotland.  It was the first time that thousand strong armies were employed in battle.   It left marauding soldiers who became mercenaries and were prepared to fight for any army who would pay them. The war was ignited over religion - the Protestants versus the Roman Catholics and ended up, as nearly all wars do, being about land.

Whole swathes of Germany were left abandoned, farms destroyed and crops ruined. Whole villages and communities were wiped out. The combined effect of the plague and the war left an estimated 3 million dead. The cruelty that was unleashed then is hard to take in and once such cruelties had been unleashed it was impossible to put back in Pandoras Box.

I was very fortunate to meet with extraordinary historian, Peter H Wilson, whose book The Thirty Years War: Europes Tragedy is a very enlightening read.  Unlike him I am not a historian - my approach to history is to try and make the past come alive so that it can become relevant to the readers of today. I've done a lot of research into modern war and have been fortunate enough to meet serving officers who had returned from Afghanistan and Iraq. All those I talk to said they had been altered by the experience and found civilian street life hard to adjust to.  One said you only know youre alive when you are dancing on the edge.

I wanted to Tinder to tell a story that is true to all wars.  It matters little if you are fighting with machetes, knives, muskets, gunpowder, swords or chemical weapons. The effect is just the same.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

GoodRead - Shadows

So, while I was away on my Mini-RSM, I read the first book in the Lux series, Obsidian (review for that is here), and, before I left, I download the eNovella prequel, Shadows, onto my kindle. When I told people this, nearly everyone on Twitter went "Read that AFTER Obsidian! Trust me on this one! Read AFTER!". And because so many people said this, I went "Ok, this has to be important."

I am now going to say the same time to you. If you are going to read this, READ THIS AFTER OBSIDIAN! I know this is a prequel, but there are reasons and I will get into those a little further into the review!

Shadows takes place a year prior to Obsidian and it follows Dawson, an alien who falls hard for Bethany, a human. And if you have read Obsidian, you are aware that Dawson isn't there. So, it answers the question "What really happened to Dawson and Beth?"

Now, I said that if you're were thinking of reading this then reading Obsidian afterwards, you shouldn't. You should read Obsidian first then Shadows. There are loads of reasons: explaining why characters behave the way they do in Obsidian (mainly Dawson's brother, Daemon), foreshadowing for Obsidian and its sequel, Onyx, and showing the deep connection between the Black triplets (which was hinted at but wasn't examined in depth).

While Katy's relationship with Daemon is very "I hate your guts but I'm lusting after you", Dawson and Bethany is sweeter. Sparks flew off them from their first meeting but they took their time to get to know each other. They stay on the phone to each other till they both fell asleep - that's how sweet and romantic this is compared to Katy and Daemon who want to rip each other's clothes off.

But this relationship difference shows us how different Dawson is from Daemon. Daemon is dark, moody, quick to anger whereas Dawson is laid-back, smiles and would put his heart on the line for love in an instant.

If you're a fan of the series and you haven't read this, READ THIS! And if you want to dip your toe in, this will do you just fine. But remember, Dawson and Bethany aren't the main characters in the series so don't get too attached to them...

(PS - I do have Oynx on my kindle. Not sure when am going to read this but I hope to read it sooner rather than later...)

Saturday 9 November 2013

UKYA Blog Tour - Sara Grants Asks "Why when book sales are going down, YA sales seem to be going up?"

As a UK blogger (and one that seems to devour YA), I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour to promote UK YA. If you want to know more about Project UKYA, please visit their blog! Today, the lovely author Sara Grant (author of Dark Parties and Half Lives) will be trying the answer the question: With UK book sales in general going down in the past few years, why do YA sales seem to be going up? So, I'll hand you over to Sara for her thoughts on this question....

Why when book sales are going down, YA sales seem to be going up?

My short answer is…because there are so many amazing young adult books being published!
            Yeah, I’m biased. That’s what I write and primarily what I read. But it’s true. Here’s a snapshot of my reading pile – some of these I’ve recently finished and others I’m dying to read. When I check out the teen sections in bookshops, I always come home with a stack of books. (My husband would tell you that I personally am the reason for this upturn – because I buy so many YA books.)
            I think we need to thank trailblazers like J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins and Stephanie Meyer for expanding the appeal of teen books. Their series established a habit and hunger for reading in millions of children and teens. Readers of Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Twilight are now – I hope – lifelong readers.
            We also know that YA books aren’t just for teen. YA books have an ever-expanding readership. Tweens to pensioners pick up books that are branded YA. And once they’ve read one, they will read others. Perhaps initially parents check out what their teens are reading, but I know empty-nest mums and dads who still enjoy a teen novel from time to time.
            Teen characters and issues are timeless. Whether you are experiencing puberty now or still healing from secondary school scars, we can all appreciate this time of life when we experience the thrill of so many firsts and the possibilities seem endless. It’s the time of life when we begin to break away from our parents and discover who we really are. I wonder if we are all still struggling to either live up to our teen expectations or overcome our teen issues. Oh, maybe that’s getting too deep…
            On a more practical note, teen books can be face-paced and highly charged stories. They are often a fairly manageable length. I think many teens and adults appreciate the fleeting escape YA fiction offers.
            No matter what the cause, I’m thrilled that YA is flourishing. Not only because I write it, but also because as a teen, I needed it. I’m pleased that teens can find themselves and lose themselves in teen fiction. Long may it endure!

About Sara Grant
Sara writes books for both children and teens. DARK PARTIES, her first young adult novel, won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for Europe. Her next novel for teens – HALF LIVES – is a story told in two voices from a pre- and post-apocalyptic time. She also writesa new funny magical series for young readers – MAGIC TRIX. Sara is part of a team of editors and writers – called Book Bound – which is offering a weekend writers retreat in 2014. Find out more about Sara at www.sara-grant.com and Book Bound at www.bookboundretreat.com

Thursday 7 November 2013

GoodRead - Allegiant

This is going to be a hard review to write. I finished this book late Tuesday night, writing the review Wednesday and am going to put this online on Thursday. So me writing a review this quickly is very rare, but I think I need to write this and share my feels towards you guys. I will try my UTMOST to keep this review of Allegiant as SPOILER-FREE as possible (but I might have to spoil over the previous two books within this trilogy, Divergent and Insurgent).

So... here we go.

After the shocking ending of Insurgent, all hell has broken loose. The factions have shattered, people are torn over what to do and Tris is stuck in the middle of it all. So when she, Tobias and a few others are offered the chance to escape into a world outside the city, she takes it. Maybe she and Tobias can have a life together, away from violence, deaths and betrayal.

Except that this new world is far more alarming than the one she left behind. New truths make old discoveries meaningless and will change the hearts of people around her. Soon, Tris has to fight once more...

Now, where on earth do I start?

This final book in the trilogy will divide the fandom. I stayed as far away from spoilers/reviews as much as possible (and I wasn't spoiled!) but I have heard that some readers who read this within days of release either really loved it or really hated it. The reason for this is because there is one HUGE twist and this twist is causing waves. I didn't see it coming (and I was trying to second guess what this twist was going to be!) and I can kinda see why this twist had to happen but I was there going "DID SHE HONESTLY DO THAT?!"

This book is a very different book compared to Divergent and Insurgent. It felt, to me, a little more political and a little more personal. We see Tris and Tobias talk and fight and make-up. This book dealt with this issues while moving at speed, though there were times the story did drag, if I am completely honest with you. Another problem with this is Four's point of view. At times, it felt like his story was slower pace than Tris's.

I am struggling to write this. Just so you know. This is HARD to write!

This series is wonderful. It's one of the best dystopian trilogies out in YA at the present moment. Maybe, dare I say it, even better than the Hunger Games.

If you are a fan of the trilogy, then you have to read this. This will be the most emotional of the three. Veronica Roth is a brilliant writer and I demand more from her (thank goodness for the Four: A Divergent Collection will be out in hardback next year!), but I think I need time to get over this book. I need to mourn this book and, maybe next year, I shall reread the whole trilogy.

Monday 4 November 2013

SMILE - Worst Way To Spend A Saturday Night?

I can't remember watching this episode of Channel 4's 8 Out Of 10 Cats but I do love Sarah Millican so THANKS SARAH!

Thursday 31 October 2013

GoodRead - The Authoritative Calvin & Hobbes

Here is my antidote for all the scary Halloween reads. Oh yeah, I'm a real rebel (note the gentle sarcasm in those words). Anyway, this was super cheap on Amazon (1p plus £2.80 P&P) hence me buying it and talking about it now.

So, as you are aware if you have read my previous Calvin and Hobbes reviews (It's A Magical World and The Essential Calvin and Hobbes), I fully blame Laura from SisterSpooky for introducing me to these characters so BLAME HER, FOLKS!

Calvin and Hobbes: your average six year old boy and his best friend in the whole wide world, his toy tiger, trying to make sense of the world around him by asking the big questions: "Why are we here?", "Are we destroying the planet?", "How does one survive camping when it rains NON STOP?" and taking the mickey out of politics, sports, and life in general.

I liked this collection (for those of you wondering, this omnibus contains Yukon Ho! and Weirdos from Another Planet). There were things I sniggered, went "awww!" and remembered what it was like to be that age (I shudder to think what my family would say about me at that age) while getting the humour Bill gave Calvin's parents.

But I didn't love it. And I have NO IDEA WHY!!! I think it's because I adore It's A Magical World and The Essential Calvin and Hobbes so much that it was going to be really hard for this book to match up to them.

But I think anyone would read this and love it. Well, if you read any Calvin and Hobbes, I think you will fall under its spell. This is wonderful cartoon series and I dare anyone to not fall in love with these characters. Now, I WANT A TOY TIGER!!!

Now, here is a random strip I know is in the edition, just to wet your appetite. Enjoy!

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Books And Their Theme Songs - Volume 20

Everyone ready for the ghost and ghouls? If you're not, you're in the same boat as me (I get freaked out easily) so here, to hopefully lessen the blow, here is the 20th edition of Books and Their Theme Songs, covering the months of September and October! ENJOY!

MORE THAN THIS by Patrick Ness
"Maybe" by Kelly Clarkson

"5am" by Katy B

TAINTED by AE Rought
"You Will Be Mine" by Lenka, "My Blood" & "Dead In The Water" by Ellie Goulding

OBSIDIAN by Jennifer L. Armentrout
"Magnetic" by Jessie J

Friday 25 October 2013

Hot Key Books/Templar Books/Piccadilly Press Book Brunch

So, the Saturday just gone (while I was in my Mini-RSM), I went to Hot Key Books HQ went Hot Key Books with fellow publishers, Templar Books and Piccadilly Press did a joint book brunch. And after a week away at Disneyland and me deciding (in my wise wisdom) to walk there from my train station and getting lost (thanks iPhone Maps!), I feared I would be in the corner of the office, either panting furiously or about to fall asleep. But I stayed away and drooled over the books that all three publishers showcased! You guys will find something you enjoy reading. That is my honest opinion.

So, to all the other book bloggers and vloggers I chatted to (or briefly said hi to), WAS GREAT CHATTING TO YOU GUYS! It was very much a quick catch up! To all the publishers, THANK YOU for setting this up and chatting to all of us with our question/excitement! And with all the authors, THANK YOU for chatting to us about your books, writing tips, writing twisted deaths and writing kissing in different and exciting ways!

So, let me quickly go through some books I am HUGELY excited to read!

TRIBUTE by Ellen Renner (March 2014 - Hot Key Books)
This was one of those books that I (and several bloggers around me) instantly went "I HAVE to read this!". This world tackles dark issues - death, power, corruption, society - but it's been a while since I read a "magical" world that tackles these themes and tackle them well. In this, the first of two books (a duology, right?), we're in a dark world where magic is power, technology is banned and you can be killed if you know how to read. After a shocking death of a friend, Zara vows revenge and begins to spy for the rebel Knowledge Seekers. But when Zara meets the hostage Aiden, Zara is determined to save him... but can she save her?

BOMBMAKER by Claire McFall (February 2014 - Templar)
I still haven't read Ferryman and I have EVERY intention to read it but Bombmaker will be read first as this sounds awesome. This tackles issues such as terrorism and national identity. In the near future, the recession has hit the United Kingdom hard. So much so that the English government close their borders to Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Any person from these countries found in England will be branded, and if they are found in England a second time, they will be shot on sight. Lizzie is Scottish, branded and was almost shot till gang boss Alexander "saves" her and makes her his possession. As a twisted freedom fighter, trying to reunite Great Britian, he forces Lizzie to become his bombmaker. Can Lizzie escape and, if she does, at what price?

ALL THE TRUTH'S THAT'S IN ME by Julie Berry (Out Now - Templar)
This is causing HUGE WAVES in the BookTube Community in the US! HUGE! Plus, this book is written in the rare second-person (aka "You walk through the field", etc). The book follows Judith, who after being missing for two years, returns home. Only she's not the same girl she was before she disappeared. Her tongue has been cut out and her best friend is dead. With no way to tell what happen to her, she silently pours her heart out to a boy who owns her heart...

FIREWALLERS by Simon Packham (Out Now - Piccadilly Press)
This was released earlier in the year (but it got a little lost under the news that Piccadilly Press was bought by Bonnier Publisher [the same people who own Hot Key Books, Templar Publishing & Red Lemon Books]) hence it coming into my radar now. It sounds very thriller and I love reading thrillers! Jess returns home from a bad day of school, to find her dad suspended from work, the media's outside her house and her dad is in hiding. Her mum drags Jess and her sister into hiding where modern technology is forbidden! But what did Jess's dad do? And why is the whole family on the run?

HOLD YOUR BREATH by Caroline Green (Out Now - Piccadilly Press)
Dark and twisted. Basically how I like my reads, and this fits perfectly! Tara has a gift to find lost things. But the last time she used this gift to help the Police, it ends badly and this leads to Tara to doubt her gift. But events take a dark turn when she picks up an earring and see's its owner, trapped in a basement. Can Tara trust her gift and save the girl? (You can see why I love the sounds of this!)

IRRESISTIBLE by Liz Banks (Out Now - Piccadilly Press)
I know most of you guys will reacting either "This has been out for AGES! Take about Unstoppable!" or "This is romance! You HATE romance!" and, I know, this isn't up my street normally, but this sounds really interesting and I want to read something fast. Mia's summer job is hard-work, but fun, especially when a romance develops between her and the hunky Dan. But Mia can't help but be drawn to Jamie - sexy, rich and who happens to love messing people's lives. (But out of the three of Liz Banks, the one I am the most intrigued to read is her second, Undeniable...)

THE MADNESS by Alison Rattle (March 2014 - Hot Key Books)
Another Victorian thriller from the pen of Alison Rattle and we enter the world of being a "dipper". Marnie is a dipper in training. Her life is dull until she meets the charming, handsome and a son to a Lord, Noah. But Marnie feels for him begins to consume her and turns into an dangerous obsession that can only end in tragedy. This was described to us as "Teen Victorian Fatal Attraction."

And am going to stop here but I could go on for ages over this. And this post took under two hours to write so... what do you think? Are they any books that wet your appetite?

Thursday 24 October 2013

GoodRead - Obsidian

I had this lurking on my kindle for a while. Everyone who has read this in the book blogging/vlogging community who have read this has RAVED over this series and, of course, after the last few reads (thanks Lake Thirteen for making me go near a "reading slump"), and because I was going out of the country, I decided to take my kindle and, after looking over several books, I decided on Obsidian.

Katy runs a book blog (geez, I wonder why all us book bloggers love this series...) and when her mom moves her to West Virginia, Katy just resigns herself to her new boring fate until she meets her hot next door neighbour. That is, until he opens his mouth. Daemon Black is arrogant, cocky, self-absorbed. It's hate at first sight. So when Katy gets attacked into a car park and Daemon saves her, Katy realises that there's something weird about Daemon and his twin sister, Dee. Something otherworldly. And Katy wants to find out. That is if she doesn't stab Daemon first...

Ok, am going to say something that will make half of you guys run away from the hills from this book and this series and the other half of you go "Ok, this sounds like my cup of tea". But, here it is: This feels very Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.


I think, with any paranormal YA novels, you'll find similar between the book and Twilight. This is the same with all those magic books and compare it to Harry Potter or any dystopian novel can be compare to The Hunger Games. It's because they fit into the genre. If they come under the same umbrella and you are determined to find links, you will. For example, once I started comparing Twilight to Obsidian, I kept going "Oh, Katy is Bella, Daemon is Edward, Dee is Alice, Ash is Rosalie, etc".

And this can be annoying to a reader. So, maybe we should stop doing this.

Anyway, the story. It was fun read and I enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed that this wasn't a typical YA read. Katy and Daemon are strongly attracted to each other and yet they hate each other. It's not instant-love. It's Lust At First Sight! Do you know how refreshing this is? And how it ended was, again, refreshing as it wasn't what the reader would expect and will make reading the next book in the series, Onyx, very interesting as this is new territory.

And the snarky one liners! THANK YOU! I love Katy's and Daemon's relationship and you saw it through their snarky back-and-forth and this was refreshing and great! It felt like two teenagers bickering that we was great! Plus, there are things that Jennifer chats about in Obsidian that happens in other books and puts them right. For example, Katy wakes up to find her best friend, Dee, watching her sleep. Katy's instant reaction: "That's creepy! STOP IT!"

This has potential. I can see this series becoming a very addictive series, but this is the first book in the series so this was laying down the foundations. The real proof will be in reading the second book in the series or the eNovella prequel, Shadows. I was told to read Shadows after Obsidian by fellow book bloggers so am going to attack that in a week or two and my love for the Lux might be kicked up a gear but, yes, this series could be one interesting read (and with the film rights of this book being bought), so if this interests you, go for it!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Mini RSM - I'm Back!

I'm back from my little wee break! Did you miss me? I hope so! I had a lovely week and a bit break from the blog. I went to Disneyland Paris with my other half (I hugged Pluto and got a photo with the Evil Queen, who on several occasions, I almost called Regina TO HER FACE! Me think this would have been her reaction if I said that...)

And before that, very early one Monday morning, I dragged him to King's Cross and got a photo taken at Platform 9 3/4. So, this holiday has been my

 holiday. So, hopefully, am back, refresh and ready to scare and take on the blogsphere. But I fear my attempt at this will be a bit like this:

So come! Join the madness! I promise I will try and be fun and read fun books! HONEST!!!

Sunday 13 October 2013

Mini RSM

Surprise! Now, I did warn you that I might do this months ago that I might do another RSM so here I am, announcing that I am taking a week-ish off! Now, you are probably reacting like this:

Whereas most of you are probably really reacting like:

Now, the reason for this mini-break is because I'm going away with my other half. So, for the next few days, you guys won't have my hyper self for a while (feel sorry for my other half).

And because I'll be away, this might mean I won't be doing as much reading as normal. Which means, I will probably be like this for a good few hours:

But I won't be away long. Only a few days. You won't miss me. Much. I hope. And anyway:

And just to make the week away easier, here's a picture of a book-loving cat:

So, until we blog again...